GMIT hotel students have developed a range of innovative new food products in response to consumer trends, as part of their BA in Culinary Arts flexible learning degree programme. The students, all of whom are working as chefs in the hospitality sector, travel from Kerry, Limerick, Westmeath, Roscommon, Mayo and County Galway one day each week to participate in this part-time programme.
The new food products reflect changes in consumer choices in recent years, such as the growth in demand for gluten-free and healthy products, convenient ready-to-eat products and new flavour sensations.
For their second year Food Product Development module, they had to research and identify a viable target market, prepare a feasibility study, produce the product and promote its benefits in its packaging and branding. They are assessed on their efforts and performance by external and internal experts.
Bord Bia, industry representatives and lecturers in the GMIT Hotel
School reviewed the products at a special presentation in the Hotel
School recently, where the 17 students showcased nine different products as part of their assignment.
The new food products include Symphony of Dry Fruits, which is a sport nutrition drink and mix fruit breakfast spread, gluten-free vanilla sponge cake mix ready for the oven, Paste Pods, an authentic spicy curry sauce, and Oh So-Saucy, which is fresh ready-to-heat coeliac–friendly sauce.
Other products include Falafel King Snack Box, miniature falafel with unique sauces, healthy and convenient aromatic dipping delicacy Super Dukak, low GI snack food Amaze Bites, Polenta Pullets, a lemon corn meal cake for coeliacs, and Squeeze Me Humus, which is chocolate flavour humus in a squeezable bottle.
Richard Nielsen, GMIT Hotel School lecturer, said the students now have the potential to take these products to the next level, which is to pitch to retailers and food markets.
“Some of the visiting industry experts suggested they could test out the market in the increasingly popular pop-up shops, pop-up restaurants and local farmers markets all over the country, which could facilitate developing their ideas further.
“This is the sixth year we have been running this Food Development
Module, which evolved from the Advanced Skills modules first run in GMIT in 1992. Some of our recent graduates have gone on to commercialise their product ideas,” adds Mr Nielsen.
Innovation is key to the future success of the Irish food and drink industry, according to Eimear O’Donnell from Bord Bia. “At the heart of innovation is the consumer and, through research and insight, the students on this course have produced a fantastic range of products. The product concepts were well developed and executed – a very high standard overall which is a reflection of the dedication and expertise of the lecturing staff and GMIT,” she said.
For further information on programmes in the GMIT Hotel School and the part-time Bachelor of Arts in Culinary Arts programme, see www.gmit.ie/thehotelschool.